Pretty in Perth: A Review of the Ritz-Carlton Perth
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With a spate of new hotels, plenty of development downtown and a full calendar of festivals (not to mention a nonstop connection to Europe), Perth, Australia, is feeling less and less like one of the planet’s most remote cities.
During a recent visit to Australia, I happened to swing through the Western Australian capital for a few nights and decided to check out the city’s newest hotel, the Ritz-Carlton Perth.
Officially opened on Nov. 15, it marks the return of Ritz-Carlton to the Red Continent and comes ahead of proposed future locations in Melbourne and Sydney. It also holds the distinction of being the brand’s 100th property.
The Ritz-Carlton did not have the quirky character of some of Perth’s more boutique hotels, like the QT Perth and the Tribe Hotel, but the Ritz-Carlton has a lot going for it, including huge rooms with panoramic views, a fabulous location right on the riverfront and a friendly staff who seem to have everything well in hand, even just a few weeks after opening.
The Ritz-Carlton Perth is a Category 7 property. Award nights cost 50,000 points apiece at off-peak times, 60,000 points at standard rates or 70,000 points at peak pricing. For the next few months, you can often get award nights at all three levels within the same week. That makes it harder to pin down a good award reservation, but if you hit the 50,000-point mark, you might want to book it.
Like the award rates, room prices can fluctuate widely, starting between AU$342 and AU$636 ($230 to $450) per night over the next few months.
My two-night stay happened to fall over a weekend where rates were AU$362 ($250) per night or 70,000 points for a room in the starting Deluxe category. Booking an award would only have gotten me 0.36 cents per point in value at those rates, well below our valuations for Marriott Bonvoy points.
Instead, I just booked a paid stay and used my Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card so that I would earn 6x Marriott points per dollar at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program. If you’re short on Marriott points, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card is offering a welcome bonus of earn up to 125,000 Marriott Bonvoy points. Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Plus, earn an additional 25,000 bonus points after your first anniversary of Card Membership. Enjoy complimentary Platinum Elite status with your Card for the 2021 status year. Offer Expires 1/13/2021. The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card, meanwhile, is offering new cardholders 100,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
The hotel is the centerpiece of the new Elizabeth Quay development. It fronts the Swan River right in the heart of the central business district. The area contains a lot of new restaurants and bars and is adjacent to the Bell Tower and the quay where you catch the ferry to Rottnest Island. In short, it’s an ideal spot whether you’re in town for business or leisure, and you can walk to pretty much anywhere in the center of the city, including to the main train station.
My Ubers from and to the airport at slow times during the weekend cost AU$30 ($20.50) each way, and took around 25 minutes. The hotel entrance was difficult to navigate and poorly marked, so each of my drivers had issues both finding it and even exiting once they had picked me up.
I arrived at 9:30 p.m. on a Friday night. My driver had to go around the block twice in order to figure out the exact way to get into the driveway.
The area was busy with people heading in and out for the evening (there seemed to be several events taking place at the hotel), but a bellman immediately came to open my door for me and collect my suitcase from the trunk.
After he marked my name down on the luggage, he showed me past the bell desk and through the enormous, automatic bronze door that led to the lobby.
The lobby was not huge but still impressive, with high ceilings and a beautiful chandelier that was inspired by the Karijini Gorge waterfalls in Western Australia’s Pilbara region.
No one else was checking in when I walked up to the reception desks, so I had two friendly agents helping me. One of them disappeared for a moment and then came back with a cold towel for my hands and a small, hibiscus-infused drink.
The other agent thanked me for my Gold status and said I had been upgraded two categories to a Large Studio King. I looked it up later, and the price difference between it and the room I originally booked seems to range from about AU$160 AU$220 ($110 to $150) per night, so that was a fair bit of extra value.
Both of them explained where the hotel’s amenities were, including the restaurants and spa, and said they would be on duty the following evening. I thanked them then headed around the corner to the elevators up to the rooms.
The hotel has a total of 205 rooms including 19 suites. Mine was on the 10th floor at the end of one of the corridors.
The building is round, so I wasn’t sure which direction I had headed, but when I looked out the window, I could see that my room looked out north and east.
When I entered, all the lights came on and the electronic blinds came down to cover the floor-to-ceiling windows automatically.
There was a large closet with several compartments, a safe and a shelf for luggage.
The room was around 700 square feet and felt spacious.
The décor was inspired by Western Australia’s landscapes, which the hotel describes as a "combination of pristine beaches, unspoilt reefs, ancient untamed landscapes and a mild climate.” This throughline was most evident in the painted panels both at the end of the corridor outside my room and the one fixed to one side of the bed.
There was wooden paneling above the bed and around the TV and hardwood flooring, which gave the room a clean look. The wall coverings, headboard and carpeting were in taupe and gray tones.
By day, the room had an airy, bright feeling thanks to the huge windows.
And it took on a more colorful palette that had been subdued somewhat at night.
Each side of the bed had a built-in reading light with an additional hanging lamp next to the side closest to the door. There was also a bench at the foot of it. The side farther from the door had more light switches and the controls for the blinds, while both sides had power and USB ports. The bed itself was also comfortable with great pillows and a fluffy duvet that was just the right weight.
Most of the walls were windows, but the one that was solid held a 55-inch LED TV that pulled out and swiveled for easy viewing from the bed or the small table with two chairs in the corner.
Speaking of which, I found a welcome amenity there that included two bottles of cold-pressed juice and some gooseberries.
The minibar included a bunch of local snacks including nuts, jerky and fudge.
It also came with Western Australian wines, locally produced The West Winds gin and a variety of other spirits.
Behind the bed, the bathroom was separated from the main room by a sliding door.
It, too, had a wall of full-length windows. It contained a dual vanity with a tiled backsplash, two mirrors and two sinks set into a stone countertop.
There was a WC with the toilet.
The pièce de résistance? A half-glassed-in spa-style suite with shower and bathtub.
The shower had both handheld and rainfall shower heads, while the tub was a sophisticated deep-soaking model with a plank across it holding bath salts and a loofah. The look was stunning, but water splashed out on the rest of the bathroom floor.
Ritz-Carlton’s bathroom amenities are Asprey Purple Water. It is a nice luxury brand, but I really wish Ritz-Carlton would look into providing more place-specific products when possible. There was also a selection of other toiletries in case you had forgotten anything at home.
The other thing I noticed was a turndown amenity of People4Ocean skincare products on either side of the bed. There was a pouch holding a sample of night cream and another with SPF 50 day cream. Given Perth’s sunny climate, I thought this was a great idea, and the products themselves were great.
I had views in two directions, looking out over a park and the river at one end.
And I could see part of the city skyline from the other side of the room.
The Wi-Fi was free and fast, so I looked forward to getting a lot of work done.
Food and beverage
First, however, I needed to eat. My flight had been delayed by around 90 minutes, so I had missed my reservation at the hotel’s fine-dining restaurant, Hearth. Given the late hour, I ordered something from room service.
The menu included items like chilled melon and almond soup with cucumber, tarragon oil and aromatic herbs for AU$18 ($12); corn agnolotti with chestnuts, mushrooms and parmesan for AU$24 ($17); and olive-Parmesan crumbed lamb cutlets with zucchini and sheep’s yogurt for AU$44 ($30).
In the end, I had spiced lamb pita with paprika marmalade and sheep’s milk tzatziki, which came with a side of cucumber tabbouleh for AU$24 ($17). Including taxes and a service charge, it was closer to AU$30 all told ($20), which still wasn’t bad for a room service meal at a luxury hotel.
Though it was filling, the sandwich could have used a little work. There were only a few strips of meat, most of which seemed to be off-cut fat, so really it was just like having a big piece of pita. The tabbouleh was nice, though. And it arrived within 20 minutes of my ordering it.
I asked about getting a table at Hearth the following evening, a Saturday right before the holidays, and though the front-desk folks really seemed to try their best, they could only get me in at 9:15 p.m. Ordinarily, I might have done that, but I had an early flight the following morning, so I had to skip it.
The restaurant was a large space with a beautiful art deco look down on the ground floor. You could enter directly from Elizabeth Quay without passing through the lobby.
Executive chef Jed Gerrard has won a few foodie prizes in Western Australia and sources a lot of his ingredients from the state's Kimberley region. The menu included smoked Southern Forest rainbow trout with grilled sorrel cream and burnt butter for AU$14 ($10); Exmouth king prawns with finger lime, spiced emulsion and toasted sesame for AU$8 ($6) each; red kangaroo tartar with coal-baked beetroot, purple basil and salted egg yolk for AU$26 ($18); and hearth-roasted duck with Jarrah honey and spiced quandong to share for AU$88 ($60).
Across a foyer from the restaurant was its partner bar, the Hearth Lounge. It was a small space, and you had to make reservations ahead of time to secure a seat (they discouraged just hanging around or standing by the bar). But my friend and I managed to squeeze in at the last minute for an early drink around 5:30 p.m.
The signature cocktails included the Plum with Ketel One vodka, burnt plum, Aperol and citrus bitters for AU$19 ($13 USD); and the Olives with The West Winds Cutlass gin, olives and fennel oil for AU$22 ($15). There was also a selection of mostly Australian wines and beers.
Up by the pool deck, the Songbird Bar & Lounge was closed for a private event the Saturday night I was there, which really made the dining options at the hotel feel limited.
The menu included items like Abrolhos Island scallop ceviche with coconut, coriander and ginger for AU$24 ($17); and dry-aged beef sliders with Dellendale raclette, bacon, pickles and smoked onion aioli for AU$10 ($7) each. During the weekend, you could also order out by the pool.
The hotel had a small outdoor pool area on the fifth floor and a club lounge on the sixth floor.
Saturday was a sunny day, so it was busy with families with children out for a swim, but there were still plenty of loungers with towels.
The fitness center was also on this floor.
It included the usual assembly of new cardio and weight machines, racks of free weights and other apparatus for stretching.
The hotel spa was next door and completely booked during my stay, so I didn’t get to try any of the treatments or see the facilities, though the attendant there was extremely apologetic about that and went through the menu with me.
They use Biologique Recherche and Australian LaGaia skincare products, which I have sampled at other spas and really like. The massages cost around AU$190 ($130) for 75-minute sessions, while 60–minute facials were around AU$250 ($170).
Although Perth has had quite a few recent hotel openings, the arrival of the Ritz-Carlton Perth was the most highly anticipated of them. The hotel provides a great new business and leisure hub along Elizabeth Quay and has upscale amenities, including its dining outlets and spa.
Though not cheap, the paid rates are certainly not exorbitant, especially when you take the currency exchange with a strong U.S. dollar into account. That said, points rates of up to 70,000 per night seem expensive for a property like this, so hopefully they'll tend toward the 50,000-point side of the range.
Despite having opened only a couple weeks before my stay, the staff members were on top of their game from the moment I arrived to my departure. The front-desk folks were not only polite and efficient but really nice to talk to and get suggestions from for what to do in the city. The bellmen out front were always helpful with bags and making sure the Ubers knew where to enter, wait and exit, despite the horrible signage. I would definitely stay here again on my next visit to Perth.
All photos by the author.